What happened

Molson Coors Beverage (TAP -0.47%) shareholders are beating the market by a wide margin this year. The alcoholic beverage stock jumped 18% in the first half of 2022, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, compared to a 21% drop in the S&P 500.

That performance looks even better when you stack the beer giant against its industry peers. Boston Beer, Constellation Brands, and Anheuser-Busch InBev are all trading lower so far in 2022.

Molson's comparatively strong performance has been driven by its market share gains and its brighter growth and earnings prospects.

So what

Molson Coors said in its last earnings update in early May that sales volumes were up a bubbly 10% in the first quarter, which ended in late March. That expansion result easily beat peers, including Constellation Brands, Boston Beer, and Anheuser-Busch. It was powered by strong demand for core beer brands including Coors Light and Miller Light, but also by the positive reception for Molson Coors' newer introductions in the hard seltzer niche.

Those wins sparked an 18% sales spike in Q1, marking the company's fastest year-over-year increase in over a decade. "The start of 2022 brought continued momentum for Molson Coors," CFO Tracey Joubert said in a press release.

The company demonstrated solid pricing power, too, with both prices and sales volumes rising so far in 2022. Operating profit in Q1 landed at $224 million compared to $177 million in the prior-year period.

Now what

Executives in early May projected that net sales will rise by around 5% for the full year while core earnings expand at a slightly faster rate. Both of those targets were unchanged since their first official 2022 forecast at the start of the year.

Economic growth has slowed in the weeks following Molson Coors' Q1 announcement. And consumer spending is being pressured by faster inflation. That's why investors will be closely watching the company's upcoming earnings report, slated for late July, for signs of struggles in balancing sales growth with profitability.

The stock should continue delivering solid returns if Molson Coors maintains its positive market share momentum without sacrificing much in the way of operating profit margin. On the other hand, the rally could stall if its late-July update shows weakening appetite for its premium beer products as consumers shift their spending priorities.